Today’s debut author interview is with a nonfiction writer: Jenifer Madson, author of LIVING THE PROMISES: Coming to Life on the Road to Recovery (March 2013, Conari Press). I find it fascinating to study the paths of debut writers, so that other scribes trying to make it can see what they did right and wished they’d done different on their journey to publication.
(Read other debut author interviews.)
LIVING THE PROMISES is an inspirational self-help book that discusses finding purpose and joy after breaking from addiction. Karen Casey, PhD., author of Each Day A New Beginning, said, “Jenifer’s book is a must for your morning meditation or night stand, or both. She writes with such clarity about the journey we share in light of the ‘promises’ made to us in the Big Book. You will enjoy every morsel of this book. I did.”
What is the book’s genre/category?
Please describe what the story/book is about.
A day-at-a-time collection of stories, sayings, and strategies for a life of joy and purpose in recovery from addiction.
Where do you write from?
(Find a list of literary agents for nonfiction books.)
Briefly, what led up to this book?
I had just celebrated 25 years in recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol, and was really compelled to share the tips and stories for how I came from such an ugly place to create such a rich and fulfilling life. I had self-published a book in 2006, for my consulting business, and loved the process of writing and publishing books.
What was the time frame for writing this book?
When I decided to write it, all I had was the title and a premise. So I put up a Facebook page for the book, and started posted daily, around 5 am MST most days. I would get feedback and encouragement from my “audience” on that page, and over time, I would also get suggestions on how they wanted it to be formatted (the daily reader). I ran a small ad for the page, and around 3 months later, we had several thousand fans on the page. Those fans built the book right alongside me, and it took about 10 months to complete. The daily posts became the content for the book. We have now grown that community on Facebook to almost 19,000 people.
How did the book get published?
When I decided to write the book, I reached out to Karen Casey, a hugely successful author in this genre, and asked if she would consider giving me an endorsement for the book. She gave me that endorsement, and also her contact at Conari, who I connected with, and finally met and made the agreement with to publish this work, and my next one.
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What were your 1-2 biggest learning experience(s) or surprise(s) throughout the publishing process?
I was a little surprised that this publisher would pick up my self- published work, one that was already being promoted, and be interested in a re-release, as well as accepting my next book, which was only in proposal form. Very pleasantly surprised. I have also been delighted with the depth of communication with my publisher and the team.
Looking back, what did you do right that helped you break in?
I built an audience. I invested in bringing those folks together and consistently providing quality content to make their time with me worthwhile. My publisher could easily see that I was dedicated to the work, and to marketing the work.
On that note, what would you have done differently if you could do it again?
I would have spent even more time than I did engaging with the technology that brings our audiences together with our work.
Did you have a platform in place? On this topic, what are you doing the build a platform and gain readership?
As mentioned, I built the platform on Facebook, and built the book with that ever-growing group of fans. I also built a bit on Twitter, but that venue is not as good a fit as Facebook or my website mailing list.
Best piece(s) of advice for writers trying to break in?
Write what you know, write it with passion, write it first for the sake of who it will serve, and write it well, and you will give voice to your most authentic work, which will give you a great edge. That, and be super persistent about connecting with the people in the industry who can help you; just because you haven’t heard right back from them doesn’t mean they’re not interested.
Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
I used to be a professional dancer—musical comedy-type shows— which has now morphed into a great love for ballroom dancing, for which I attend amateur competitions.
That’s a tough one….Strictly Ballroom was a hilarious sendup of the world of amateur competition, and Best In Show did the same for dog shows…hmmm, I sense a theme here. I’m also a huge fan of documentaries, and What The Bleep Do We Know would take the prize for me in that genre.
I am releasing my next book of daily meditations in the fall, A Daily Awakening, which provides points for awakening to new and improved ways to grow in love and usefulness, creating an unshakeable sense of well-being with which to meet life’s daily demands.
I have 3 other books in the very early idea stage—can’t wait to see which one I pick first.
Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- Notes to the First-Time Novelist.
- “How I Got My Agent,” by Novelist Holly LeCraw.
- Literary Agent Interview: Jessica Sinsheimer of Sarah Jane Freymann Literary.
- Sell More Books by Building Your Writer Platform.
- Write Now, Edit Later.
- Do You Need 1 Agent or More Than 1?
- Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to write a query letter.
Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
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